Mike Sherman, The Oklahoman sports editor has apologized for his headline that suggested that Kevin Durant was “Mr. Unreliable” but I’m sure he has to squirm a least a little after the past week of KDTV. If there weren’t enough reason for Iceberg Slim to be my favorite NBA player of all time, he gave this gem of an acceptance speech earlier this week (I hadn’t cried like that since the beach scene on “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”). Last night he and Russell Westbrook were both one assist away from becoming the first teammates to post triple-doubles in the same playoff game (Westbrook 31,10, and 9–Durant 32,12, and 9).
Durant’s off the court influence alone has meant so much to that community down there. He epitomizes the term franchise player (There’s no need to go into his on the court accomplishments–for someone who has had such a short career, he has compiled a pretty long list of them). When Lebron was going on cable TV and telling his hometown that he decided to go to Miami, Durant simply tweeted that he was signing an extension with Oklahoma City. Durant has been nothing short of a consummate professional on and off the court, and arguably the best ambassador for Oklahoma since Gene Autry. For the Oklahoman to print that headline is irresponsible and short sighted, and ridiculously untrue.
KD was still putting up numbers in the Grizzlies series, but Memphis was making him work for it. The article didn’t go into Scott Brooks coaching (the guy always seems one game behind in making adjustments), or that he and Russ were getting very little help from the role players. A headline like that speaks of how spoiled the OKies have become, and just how high the bar KD has set for himself and the team. People forget that KD is only 25 years old and that he isn’t superhuman (he just plays like it sometimes). FOr all the Kevin Durant has done for that state, that city, and that franchise, people like Mike Sherman and Berry Tramel should be kissing his MVP ass.
What is easy to forget (and Durant alludes to this in the SI article)
is that Durant has had to work so hard to get to this point. When he came out of high school and college, Greg Oden was always who scouts glowed about. Now that he is in the NBA, everyone is second to Lebron. But not this year, the skinny 18 year old player out of UT-Austin walked up to the podium dressed like a business man (cuz he’s a BUSINESS, MANNNN) and ripped the MVP trophy away from the clutches of Lebron James (who we can credit for forcing KD to raise his game to such an elite level).
The kid with the silky sweet jumper, who seems to glide rather than jump, who is the second best player in the world, has all the reason in the world to behave like Kobe, or Stephon Marbury, or Latrell Sprewell. But he doesn’t. He accepts criticism (even when unwarranted). He donates millions of dollars to surrounding cities that have been hit by tornadoes. I have never seen a player with so much talent have so much humility, and it was impossible not to feel happy for him when he accepted his award on Tuesday. His relationship with his fans, his teammates, and his mother, speak to the quality of his character. He proves that just because a person hits the genetic lottery and becomes rich and successful, doesn’t mean that person has to become a gigantic asshole. It is inspiring and refreshing to see someone so grounded and in touch with what makes us human. After seeing him hit milestone after milestone, it is only a matter of time before he hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy, and when he does, it’ll be waterworks all over again.